The Purdue Boilermakers will take on the Minnesota Gophers to open up B1G Conference play in the early season matchups that began a few years ago to get the conference to twenty conference games. The Boilers are looking for an 8-0 start for the second straight season after starting 8-0 and garnering a #1 ranking early last season. Purdue is 7-0 or better for the second straight year for the first time since 1992-1994 when Purdue went 9-0 and 14-0. Minnesota is currently 4-3 with no marquee wins and losses to Virginia Tech, DePaul, and UNLV by at least 9 points each.
Let’s take a look at some of the important matchups for the Boilers and Gophers
1 | Edey vs. Minnesota’s Frontcourt
This is likely a copy and paste sort of situation all season long. Can the Boiler big man continue to put pressure on opposing teams by getting them into foul trouble and making them pay at the foul line along with passing out of double teams and clogging the lane on defense? If so, Purdue will be in every single game it plays this season. Minnesota doesn’t have the size or the player to really matchup with Edey inside but it may come down to Dawson Garcia. Garcia transferred from UNC in the middle of last season and has started off well this year averaging 14.3 points and 6 rebounds. Minnesota has another bigger player in sophomore Treyton Thompson but the 6’11 C is only 190 pounds. Giving up 5 inches and over 100 pounds is a recipe for disaster for the Golden Gophers if Garcia gets in foul trouble.
2 | Purdue at the Free Throw Line vs. Minnesota Fouling
This has been something Purdue has excelled in all season so far and we need to pay close attention to it in the B1G Conference season as well. Minnesota fouls on average 14.6 times per game which ranks near the lowest amount in the NCAA this season where as Purdue averages 22.4 free throws attempted per game and converts 77.1% as a team. This one ties in with Edey’s success against the Minnesota frontcourt as he has been able to get teams in foul trouble early in the halves of most of the games. In fact, in one game Purdue was shooting in the bonus 4 minutes into the second half.
3 | Braden Smith vs. Ta’Lon Cooper
This is going to be a very good matchup for Smith as Cooper is a good facilitator at the point averaging 7 assists per game and 10.4 points per game. Smith has been a revelation for the Boilers as a facilitator who has shown a penchant for taking over games on the offensive end in the PnR with Edey and getting into the paint to setup shooters from behind the arc or dumping the ball to Edey on the roll to the bucket. If Smith can win this matchup by setting up his teammates and hitting a few of his own like he did against FSU in the later part of that game, it makes him really hard to defend with his court awareness and vision.
4 | Purdue vs. the 3 Point Arc
For all the great shooters Purdue can put on the floor, sometimes at all 5 positions, Purdue hasn’t had a game where they shoot at a really high rate. That could change today as I expect Minnesota to be forced into double Edey to stop him from dominating the paint with Minnesota’s lack of overall size. Loyer gets an abundance of the 3 point looks, and for good reason, but if Purdue can get a 10 minutes stretch where they can hit 6 or 7 threes, it will make it really hard to Minnesota to keep up as they only shoot 31.7% from behind the arc themselves. Newman is capable of knocking down 3 or 4 in a short stretch as well.